Finding your nearest car charging point: Location and cost
As of late 2021, the UK has over 42,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers spread across more than 15,500 places. Thousands more get added to the network every year.
Compare that to only about 8,400 petrol stations and it’s clear: if you’re trying to charge an electric car, you’ve never had it better. Here’s how to find an electric car charging point near you and stay on the road with zero hassle.
How to find your closest electric car charging station
You can find an EV charging point online. It’s possible that your own car will have the ability to search for one via its inbuilt display system. Renault cars use data from TomTom, Teslas use their own search network, those are only two examples.
If your car doesn’t have this feature, don’t worry. Here are three options for other services which can point you in the direction of an EV charging station in no time at all.
The electric car charging map from Zap-Map is probably your best bet for finding a nearby EV charger in the UK. It’s available either via a web browser or free app and is the most popular service of its type. Zap Map’s large community of users help keep it updated, reporting broken chargers and new locations as they show up.
Its interface is clean and intuitive, and it’s constantly being expanded with new features and third-party integrations. Search lets you filter by location, charger type, and even price.
Open Charge Map
For those driving abroad, Open Charge Map is a very useful tool. Like Zap-Map, it’s a community-led listing of EV charging stations, but whereas Zap-Map is a UK-only service right now, Open Charge Map is attempting to cover the entire globe.
Because it’s curated by a community of volunteers, your mileage may vary on exactly how accurate Open Charge Map is. As of right now, it’s a well-maintained service with a clean, user-friendly interface.
Don’t forget about Google. The mammoth company provides a staggering number of services, one of them being the world’s most beloved map. Google Maps lets you search and filter for more or less anything you could want to find, electric vehicle charging stations are no exception.
Bear in mind that this isn’t a dedicated service for finding car chargers. It might not be updated as regularly or thoroughly as more specific maps. However, Google isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s very likely their service will develop and eclipse others before long.
How much does electric car charging cost?
The cost of charging your electric car comes down to the make and model you’re driving, and the place you’re charging. The condition of your battery is also going to play a role; a newly installed battery is going to charge more efficiently than one on its last legs.
Keep an eye on how the charging station calculates a price. Some charge per kilowatt-hour (kWh) while others will charge per minute of time you spend charging. For some charging stations, you’ll need to have signed up to a monthly subscription plan beforehand.
In the vast majority of cases, charging an EV is going to be way cheaper than filling a traditional car with diesel or petrol fuel. If you’re charging at home, it’ll be cheaper still. There are ways you can do this even without a charging point installed.
Is it free to use public electric vehicle chargers?
Free public EV chargers are getting rarer and rarer. Some local authorities might still provide them, but it’s not a common thing. On the other hand, chargers being installed in workplaces is becoming very widespread. Depending on your employer, these might be provided free of charge.
If you don’t have an EV charging station where you work, your employer could get help installing one via the UK government’s Workplace Charging Scheme.
How many kWh do electric cars need to charge?
We mentioned kWh earlier, this is the unit we use to establish the price of charging your EV. You work it out by multiplying the charger’s power in kilowatts by the time spent charging in hours, then dividing that number by 1,000.
Think of the price of charging in kWh as similar to the price per litre you used to pay for fuel. To find out how much it’ll cost to fully charge your EV, multiply the price by the size of your car’s battery.
How do electric car chargers work?
The type of charger you use will determine how you charge your electric car:
• Plug-and-play chargers start working as soon as you connect to your car
• App-based chargers need you to activate them using your phone
• RFID card-based chargers require you to have a specialist radio frequency identification (RFID) card
• Contactless-based chargers start working once you’ve paid with your card
Charging at home is usually going to be the simplest method if you have that option available. You might qualify for a UK government grant to get an electric car charger installed.
How long does charging an electric car take?
The length of time it takes to charge your EV is decided by a bunch of different factors:
• Your battery size, bigger batteries take longer
• How much charge you have left, only rarely will you charge from empty
• The EV’s charging rate, some are capped at 7kW to protect the battery
• The charging point’s capacity, not all have high-speed charging capability
• Your environment, EVs lose a bit of efficiency when it’s cold
Type 1 and Type 2 charging sockets: What’s the difference?
You’ve got plenty of options for charging your electric car, so it’s important to be sure you’re using the right hardware. Here in the UK, most sockets use the newer Type 2 charging socket. You can spot it by its flattened head and seven pins, it usually charges faster than its older cousin.
The original Type 1 socket has five pins and a latch at the top to attach it. This type is more common outside the UK. If you’re taking your EV overseas, you might want to invest in an adapter. This makes extra sure you won’t be left without power if you can’t find a Type 2 charging station.
Get ready for the future: Go electric with Lookers
By 2035, all new cars sold in the UK will be electric. If you’re already part of the revolution, welcome aboard! If you still want to learn more, our expert team can help bring you up to speed.